According to a story published late Monday by the Washington Post, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi may finally—finally—be coming around on impeachment. Per WaPo:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been quietly sounding out top allies and lawmakers about whether the time has come to impeach President Trump, a major development as several moderate House Democrats resistant to impeachment suddenly endorsed the extraordinary step of trying to oust the president.
Pelosi, according to multiple senior House Democrats and congressional aides, has been gauging the mood of her caucus members about whether they believe that allegations that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate a political foe are a tipping point. She was making calls as late as Monday night, and many leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable.
There’s been significant pressure on Pelosi for some time now, and it heightened this past weekend when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called her party’s unwillingness to impeach a “national scandal.” Still, it seemed like Pelosi was committed to the idea that if she didn’t have the Republican votes in the Senate—at which point a House impeachment is more like a censure than something that could actually oust Trump—she didn’t want to broach the topic at all. Then, on Monday, Elizabeth Warren came out in favor of impeachment, and that seems to have helped change the narrative to the point that Pelosi is at least exploring the possibility.
Part of Pelosi’s concern, beyond the lack of GOP votes in the Senate, has been that forcing moderate Democrats to vote on impeachment could imperil them in swing districts come 2020, but the moderates themselves are putting the lie to that concern, at least somewhat. WaPo, again:
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly.Pelosi’s conversations — and reconsideration of her long-held position that impeachment is too divisive — come amid a growing clamor for impeachment that extends beyond the party’s liberal base and many Democratic presidential candidates to moderate lawmakers in competitive House seats.
Seven freshman Democrats with previous service in the military, defense and U.S. intelligence said in a Monday night Washington Post op-ed that if the allegations against Trump are true, “we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense.”
In essence, it seems that Pelosi needed overwhelming permission to pursue impeachment from her own party, and now she’s getting it. This shouldn’t be what it takes to force bold leadership (or just doing the right thing and impeaching a president for an impeachable offense), and prior to this change of heart, this tweet resonated:
But that’s how Pelosi has operated for an entire career—one that has largely been spent in the shadow of Republican victories in Congress, the executive, and in state and local elections. Her attitude is constantly defensive, constantly in fear of the Great Middle shifting to the right, and “bold leadership” isn’t exactly her style. Nor does she seem to learn from Republicans who manufacture outrage, from the Bill Clinton impeachment to Hillary Clinton’s emails, and never seem to suffer for it.
Now, though, her party has grown fed up with inaction and caution, and even Pelosi can’t fail to read the writing on the wall. Impeachment suddenly has momentum.